We are often asked “what is the best way to assure success in a green building project?”
Whether that query is from a Fortune 1000 businesses or an architect, the answer is the same, have the owner engage an experienced green building consultant as early as possible in the project.
Which often leads to a follow up question, “who do you recommend?”
My go to move is to recommend Lorax Partnerships based in Baltimore who are among the best of green building consultants we work with.
Those responses are not inconsistent with and, in fact, should be considered concomitantly with the conclusion, having worked on LEED projects since 2001, that the second best way to mitigate risk and avoid liability in sustainable building is a green building consultant working for the owner. (Okay, the single best way to mitigate risk in a green building project are properly drafted contract documents.)
Both other owner and architect are advantaged by the consultant contracting directly with the owner and not being a subcontractor of the architect or other design professional, .. including by example the owner avoiding having an architect specify a LEED credit for Green Power because it does not increase first costs that the architect is responsible for, and the architect mitigating risks from proposed credits not being achieved by the contractor during construction.
Sustainability and building green require skill and expertise beyond that in common stick built erection of a structure, to be successful. Owners may define success differently, .. achieving LEED certification, 25% less energy use than a comparable building, improved indoor air quality or the like, but a skilled green building consultant capable taking the project from craftsman to artist, is a key indicator of success.
By analogy, the Parthenon or for that matter the Taj Mahal and Borobudur would not have been built without skilled stone masons. Stone carvers have existed for thousands of years while green building consultants are a new trade, but the best of both cross the line from craft to art. Since 2003, the green building consultants at Lorax Partnerships have refined the art of sustainable building, including lowering first costs for construction driving reduced costs of operations and resultant higher effective rents that culminate in higher ROI.
There are more than 200,000 LEED professional credential holders and while many of them are very good at what they do, .. we work with a lot of good consultants; and, while I am pleased to recommend multiple consultants with particular skill sets in specific geographic areas for our clients to consider, I have focused on Lorax Partnerships in this blog post, without reservation, not only because they speak for the trees, but because as a corporate culture they find the sweet spot of saving the planet and having the owner prosper from its sustainability efforts.
Only the largest design firms have the knowledge and expertise required to competently specify EPDs and HPDs without exposing themselves to all but certain liability. Again, enter green building consultants who have expertise in specifying materials.
Yes, you can easily earn a LEED credit simply by including any one of the LEED accredited professionals as a member of the project team. In fact, 99% on LEED 2009 New Construction certified projects (6,881 of 6,939 projects) earned this credit.
And what I am describing is much more than only the LEED v4 Integrative Process credit, that you can also easily earn, with the project team taking an integrative approach to optimizing energy and water.
Today, green building is much more than only LEED, so consultants assist an owner in selecting the most efficacious green building standard, rating system or code for a particular project, with increasing numbers of projects pursuing the ICC 700 certification or no third party certification at all. They serve as the owner’s representative, working to satisfy that owner’s objectives while saving the planet.
But for skilled stone masons, the Parthenon would not be standing today. You may not be erecting a building to stand the test of time, but the best way to assure success with your green building project is to, early on, engage an experienced green building consultant working for the owner.